Lining up against the wall
release the railing you won't fall
at the nervous centre it not's threatening at all.
You begin to spin around
take you're hand touch the ground
it has to end somewhere and later you're all there...
Lyrics from Flying Turns' Crash Course in Science
Rarely do you encounter a collection that drums, hums and ululates from the rail but Christophe Lemaire's line for the Korean giant that is Bean Pole raises the pulse of both the eyes and ears. Following in the accomplished footsteps of Band of Outsiders and most recently Kim Jones, Lemaire teams up with one of Asia's largest clothing brands to present a considered collection for AW12. Entitled Novö, the collaboration is rooted in the designer's love of European New Wave and results in a collection of graphic and innovative street wear. With its playful prints, detail rich tailoring and an industrial colour palette, we are instantly transported to a gyrating warehouse party and a throbbing Brutalist world. Before the rhythm of Novö took hold we caught up with the seasoned design talent to learn more about the musical genre and to take a closer look at the collaboration itself...
SS: How did this collaboration between arise, what was the catalyst and how did it evolve in to the collection we see today?
Christophe Lemaire: When Beanpole came to me about coming on board for the collaboration, we talked, they were very open but I understood that they were a sportswear brand targeting a younger man. Ultimately, I like to integrate who I'm working for in my designs - the clothes have to make sense. I've always been more interested in creating refined, creative and wearable fashion than just images. For me, it made sense to return to my previous collections, for both Lacoste and my before it evolved in to something a bit more mature, timeless. There was a definite sense of returning to my love of music and street culture
SS: It's clear that the collection is rooted in your love of the industrials vibes of the music...
Christophe Lemaire: Exactly, ideas of new wave and minimalism inspired me. Within my fashion I'm interested in bringing culture to everyday. Here, I thought it would be interesting to create a new streetwear. One that was very clean and graphic using industrial grey, chemical yellow, black and white. I find it difficult to describe the process of inspiration, it's intangible at times. However, I am an eclectic person and I'm curious of many different things. I have obsessions but I'm not obsessive. I am a very synthetic person really, a fusion of different things and for me, good style is a fusion. I thought it would be cool to design minimal street wear that is rooted in cold, synthetic, machine driven sounds.
SS: I have to confess that I'm not familiar with Novö itself, what can you tell us about it?
Christophe Lemaire: I don't think you had the term Novö here in the UK, it was more common in Belgium and France. It described a movement in the early 80s of a cold war, underground, synthetic, de-humanised, industrial music. For me Novö is a cold, clean and minimalist aesthetic and I wanted to translate that in to street wear.
SS: The collection is very graphic...
Christophe Lemaire: It is! I worked with a graphic designer who I know well. I contacted him as soon as the project was agreed and explained the concept of creating a collection around Novö. He was super happy because it is completely his aesthetic. it's strange, the younger generation are really in to new wave again. We looked at all of these references from old wave, minimalism and so on and he could really express himself. For me, it was always about this sound. Geometric, minimal graphics repeated and industrial colours.
SS: Now, I don't think I've ever encountered a collection that has its own album...
Christophe Lemaire: (Laughs) Exactly, we produced the accompanying compilation album to introduce more people to Novö. I wanted to mix the songs of the 80s, the likes of DAF, Newspeak, Chris and Cosey and Flyings Turns with more contemporary acts like Geneva Jacuzzi and Dexter - still with this industrial sound. I'm a bit of a control freak and I like to be involved in all of the processes so I put the track list together myself, it was fun. For me the album is a real part of it.
SS: Do you still get the chance to DJ?
Christophe Lemaire: I still play music from time to time but rarely. I stopped DJing because I was too busy and just couldn't combine it with my day job in fashion. Also because I felt a pressure of the dancefloor - I'm not interested in the dancefloor culture. I like to share the music that I love, I'm more of a selector really. That said...in the right moment, in the right club and with the right crowd then I'm super excited to do it.
SS: From Coggles to Liberty, a number of buyers at press days have revealed their excitement about the collection...
Christophe Lemaire: The reaction has ben great. It's such an exciting project. I agreed to work on this because I felt a level of trust with Bean Pole. I'm excited to see how it will grow in the seasons ahead.
Following this long chatter of intro, I know that you are all desperate for the synths and drum machine to kick in. I suggest listening to one of Christophe Lemaire's favourite brands, the ever so jolly named Suicide, as you allow the mix of the sharp angled and sparse look book and my own graphic rich detail shots to transport you to the designer's wearable reimagined landscape of Novö...
The sartorial sights of Novö
You've been listening to the sartorial sights of Novö. I think you'll agree that Christophe Lemaire's collaboration with Bean Pole is new wave in more ways than one. The Korean giant has previously collaborated with artists and designers including Band of Outsiders and Kim Jones but this is the first time that they are entering the UK market. Stockists for Novö AW12 include Liberty, b Store, Flannels and oki-ni - the collection will be dropping very soon.